Robin reported that this year has proved to be a difficult one for spawning salmon counts in the Millard-Piercy watershed. Initially, very low stream flows likely prevented salmon from entering the system then later, heavy rains raised water levels and created turbid conditions making observation of fish difficult at times.
In spite of weekly walks through the lower Millard, no pink salmon were spotted in the creek. Typically they would be there in September and early October. Pink salmon were definitely in the Comox estuary because there was an estimate of 82,000 in the Tsolum River and 25,000 in the Puntledge. (DFO sends out a weekly e-mail with spawning estimates in selected streams so it is interesting to compare these results with ours).
Only a few chum salmon were observed in the lower Millard this year, a big contrast with last year’s record return. In general, chum salmon spawning numbers were below average in most streams on DFO’s list.
Coho salmon numbers in the Millard-Piercy system also appeared to be low and this is consistent with estimates for most other streams on the DFO list, especially the smaller ones. The first observation of salmon (presumably coho) was made by Jan Slomp on October 17 who saw three big salmon swimming upstream while he was standing on his bridge which crosses Piercy Creek. Wendy and her students made periodic surveys of the the section of Millard Creek upstream of the railroad tracks to the confluence with Piercy Creek and in Millard Creek through Millard Meadows Farm to the point where the Millard side channel starts. They also checked the new channel on Trib. 1. On November 15, in Trib.1, 4 adult coho and 2 jack coho were seen and on November 17 1 adult coho and 5 redds were seen in the Trib.1 channel and in Millard Creek from the end of Millard Meadows to the side channel intake 5 female coho, 8 male coho and 6 redds were observed.
On December 5, Marvin and Doug spotted two spawning pairs and three carcasses in the section of Piercy Creek between Trib.8 and the foot bridge in Cousins Park. On December 12 they saw 7 carcasses ( 3 males, 1 female and 3 jacks) in the same area.
Apart from these observations, Ed, Gerry and I spotted only the occasional coho in the two new enhancemnt channels (Trib. 1 and Slomp farm).